Margaret River’s Target Country will close next year, and residents won’t be able to travel to Target in Busselton either because it will shut too. The shock news last week rattled the community and sparked a backlash across regional WA as other businesses succumb to the economic fallout of COVID-19. The decision by parent company Wesfarmers would allow some outlets to rebrand, in a move taken to improve the company’s trading position. But residents on social media said it left them without a cheap alternative for everyday goods, with regular trips to Bunbury now on the cards. In Manjimup, the Chamber of Commerce has launched a petition against the town’s store closure, with residents likewise worried about losing local trade. Wesfarmers said the streamlining measures were aimed to give the 97-year-old department store chain the best chance of survival. Four more WA stores, located in Esperance, Geraldton, Northam and Pinjarra, will be converted to Kmart in early-to-mid next year. All other stores would close “early-to-mid next year”. The company said employees working within the stores set to close will be given priority consideration for new roles created in its growing businesses, Kmart and Catch. “We have made every effort in Wesfarmers to find a sustainable path forward in terms of Target,” Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott said. “We don’t like cutting. We don’t like decreasing the size of our business. And it’s terrible when you have to go through the process of letting team members go. “But these changes are really about facing into these disruptive forces in the market and giving Target every success to be sustainable in the future.” Target boss Ian Bailey said the company understood its role in regional communities and “it’s not a decision we have made lightly”. “If we could find an economic way of serving the community with stores in those locations, we would have loved to have done so,” he said. “We will continue to serve them through online and be working with each of those communities where we do have a closure to do whatever we can to find solutions for team members in those stores.” The dramatic restructuring of Target was announced along with $780 million of write-downs across the business and Wesfarmers’ industrial and safety division that will severely dent the WA group’s full-year profit.